chapter  7
Advertising and Sexualization
Pages 17

Sex has been used to sell in advertising for a long time.1 Advertising appeals directed at boys focus more on behavioural action, while those directed at girls focus more on how they look and their interpersonal relationships with others.2

Sex is used to sell many different types of products. For some types of products, sex, often manifest also with nudity, may be relevant. Hence, an advertisement that depicts a naked female in a shower using a soap product might contain imagery deemed to be sexual, but at the same time is providing a legitimate demonstration of the use of the product. The suggestion that a male deodorant product makes men sexually irresistible to women may be stretching credulity, but uses sex in a way that is relevant to the humorous sales pitch employed. The use of sex per se in advertising is less of a problem than when it treats women as objects. Advertising across all mainstream media has time and again been found to treat women differently from men. Not only have they been used to advertise products that emphasize different social or life roles for each gender, there has also been a tendency to objectify women more than men. Women are not just presented as objects, but more specifically as sex objects. It is not difficult to work out why advertisers use sexually attractive actors and

models. Physical attractiveness can enhance the effectiveness of persuasive messages. If the person trying to persuade us to buy a product is someone we find attractive, we are more likely for that reason alone to believe what they say and to follow up on their recommendations.3 On a more basic perceptual level, sex attracts our attention. Thus, for advertisers trying to make their brands stand out in a crowded commercial marketplace, using attractive models wearing no clothes is virtually guaranteed to make people look.4